Tonawanda News

Columns

May 28, 2014

CONFER: Suffering from constitutional selectivity

Tonawanda News — It’s a real treat when our citizens come out in numbers and with passion in the defense of one of our rights, just as they did – and still do – with the NY-SAFE Act. The backlash didn’t stop in the weeks that followed the act’s passage in January 2013. A year and a half later, rallies are still being held and a more personal and intimate brand of activism, the anti-SAFE Act lawn sign, still remains undeniably common throughout Western New York.

Despite all of those efforts, the activists may not be as sincere as they put on. All of them to a man consistently highlight the importance of the Constitution; our formative document takes center stage in all debates associated with the SAFE Act. Even those folks with just a passing interest in the Constitution can cite verbatim the entire Second Amendment. But that is where their constitutionalism seems to begin and end.

If the Constitution is really that important to tens of thousands of New Yorkers, then where is the uproar when our other rights are infringed?

I’ve heard nary a peep, nor seen one lawn sign or bumper sticker expressing disdain – and there should be lots of it – over the federal government’s elaborate domestic spying programs that were brought to light by Edward Snowden. It sometimes seem that no one, other than the press, cares about high-volume eavesdropping on cell phones, maintenance of phone records, scanning of email messages and other surveillance endeavors against suspected terrorists and innocent Americans alike. These tactics are all in defiance of the Fourth Amendment and, it could be argued, are far worse transgressions than anything that the SAFE Act has done. And that’s saying a lot.

To see this constitutional selectivity perfectly played out in the form of one high-profile individual, just look south across the county border.

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